Protecting my site from a client stealing it???

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by jdl8422, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. jdl8422 macrumors 6502


    Jul 5, 2006
    I use to work for a graphic/web design company. I left them for a better opportunity, but I left on good terms. They have recently asked me to do some work for them on the side. They want me to fix a website that they already have. I was just going to create a new one and present it to them. My fear is that they will possibly like the site but not want to pay me for a complete site. I know it is possible to see the code and just take the images since the site would be a simple HTML site. I'm not 100% sure they will do this, but just in case, what are my options as far as protecting myself. Is there even a way to do it?
  2. Sdashiki macrumors 68040


    Aug 11, 2005
    Behind the lens
    Never give the code to them, just show it to them.

    Put it on a USB drive, or an ftp server (not on the web with public access) and show them what itll look like in their browser window.
  3. jdl8422 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 5, 2006
    My plan was to just host it on my server, but they can still just view the code through the browser. Should I just take a screen shot?
  4. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601


    Nov 19, 2007
    Georgia, USA
    Are you using PHP or ASP.NET? If so, they won't have all the code. If you're just using HTML and JavaScript, then they would have access to all your code.
  5. detz macrumors 65816

    Jun 29, 2007
  6. SrWebDeveloper macrumors 68000


    Dec 7, 2007
    Alexandria, VA, USA
    In terms of images, never give them the .psd (i.e. Adobe Photoshop) or source files that contain the layers for complex vector based graphics. The source file that is used to save for web/export as jpeg, gif, png, tiff, etc. Nothing will prevent them from copying a finished, exported image that lives on the web site, but if they need to make complex changes to the images "easily" then they will need the source.

    One last thing - if you have a local sandbox site or test site intended for client viewing only (not the public) and you run Apache be sure to password protect it (i.e. .htpasswd/.htaccess method). Help on that is found here. Then change the password or remove their client username when done with it, but keep the local version for backup and personal use if desired.

    BTW, all this should be stated in the contract - no matter what compromises are made, put it in writing. Always.

  7. angelwatt Moderator emeritus


    Aug 16, 2005
    This is what I was thinking. Get a written work contract for the job, that way if they do try to steal the code you can use it as legal proof. They're much less likely to try something if there's a contract involved.
  8. trule macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2007
    You have implicit copyright regardless, to make it explicit put a copyright notice on each page.

    Otherwise, demo it to them on your laptop...that way they can't get at the HTML.

    Google copyright and educate yourself.
  9. InfoTech11 macrumors member

    Nov 18, 2008
    Wrap some PHP tags around it. Server does your dirty work.
  10. yetanotherdave macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2007
    Bristol, England
    Just fix the old site like they asked. They haven't asked for a new site, and they may well not have budget for it. Once you've fixed their existing site, say to them that you have some ideas for a redesign and are they interested in seeing them?
  11. jrrdnx macrumors member


    Nov 13, 2008
    The server will still send everything that PHP outputs (i.e. all HTML code) to the browser, where they will be able to see it. The only thing they wouldn't be able to see is any logic/functions written in PHP. In the end, they'd just get a static HTML page instead of the fully dynamic PHP site.
  12. hobbbz macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2005
    Why in the hell would you put the time and trouble into redesigning a site without being asked?

    Secondly, why would you actually code it before even knowing if you were getting paid for it?
  13. SelfMadeCelo macrumors regular


    Sep 9, 2008
    Tulare, CA
    Use Firefox with the add-on FireShot and you can take a full screenshot of all the pages and show them that. Atleast, that's what I would do...
  14. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    i second this advice.

    work on the current site and mock something up to show them after? (still keeping the files safe..maybe just screen shots?)

    good luck,
  15. angelwatt Moderator emeritus


    Aug 16, 2005
    They did ask, and he hasn't coded it yet. Read more closely.

  16. jdl8422 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 5, 2006
    They want me to fix an existing site. I am going to create a new site. I know its a possibility that they wont want it, I understand that. Its for my own benefit and if they pay me for it then its a bonus.
  17. tominated macrumors 68000


    Jul 7, 2006
    Queensland, Australia
    arrange to meet them and bring a laptop (if you have one) for them to look at the site with supervision
  18. Haiboss macrumors newbie

    Dec 23, 2008
    First of all every programmer hates working on a old code / old site.

    You can do few safety measures to prevnt you:

    1. First provide only a screenshot before getting the escrow payment.

    2. Don't send the files to them directl.

    3. Ask for their FTP/ server details, so that you can delete the files incase of any misunderstanding.

    4. If you provide a screenshot don't forget to watermark them.
  19. Ed91 macrumors 6502

    Dec 22, 2007
    Password Protect it.

    The guys that said to use PHP were half right, but PHP will just send the HTML / JS / CSS etc to the browser where it can be stolen. Just write a simple PHP Authentication script, before a password is entered, PHP will render a HTML login script, after, start a session and allow them to view the site. Assuming you can be there to enter the password and are present to see that they're not stealing the code, there shouldn't be much of a problem hosting it publicly with that method.

    I'd say use screenshots though, or maybe even make a vid of the site in use.. it would still be trivial to nab graphics from a screen shot, but a low-ish res vid would be a pain in the ass.

  20. pilotError macrumors 68020


    Apr 12, 2006
    Long Island
    This is good advice. I've been a consultant (although not Web) for a while now. Give them what they ask for. They are probably using you because nobody else wants to deal with it. If they were going to build a new site, I'm sure they would do that in house.

    Once you make the changes, ask if they would be interested in a rewrite.
  21. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    If you design it and code it, you own the copyright on it which, technically, legally protects your behind.

    If you fear that they will steal your work - break the law just to save a few bucks - then consider seriously whether you really want to work with them or not.

    If you've worked for them before, never had a bad experience with stuff like this, and left amicably, then I don't think it's really a worry. It pays to be sure, but I if they pass muster I wouldn't make a big deal out of it. I've never had a company stiff me stuff like this.
  22. NoNameBrand macrumors 6502

    Nov 17, 2005
    Halifax, Canada
    Why are you afraid they'll steal it? If you don't trust them, don't do the work. If they steal anything, there's small-claims court (for small stuff) and a lawsuit (for bigger stuff).

    Don't waste your time with trying to lock them out of stuff you've given them - it's DRM and it can't work.

    EDIT: My post would have been more succinct as "Melrose +1"

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